Read Part 1 HERE

The Light Reaction Company nearly had their first counter-terrorism training course cut short as the military wanted to deploy them immediately down south to Basilan. The mission was to locate and rescue two American missionaries who had been kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf. Martin and Garcia Burnham were taken from a resort they were staying at while celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary. The LRC hit the ground and began their search but suffered from command and control problems. It was an issue endemic among Philippine SOF units that while deployed they fell under the command of local area commanders who usually did not have Special Operations experience or know how to properly employ such units.

The Light Reaction Company also deployed in their search alongside a company of Scout-Rangers and a company of Special Forces, together creating the Counter-Terrorism Task Force. US Special Forces advised and tried to help as best they could. It was just months after the 9/11 attacks shook the world and the War on Terror had a different urgency for Americans than it does today. Rumor has it that some US Special Forces members wore Philippine military uniforms and were on the front lines with their host-nation counterparts. At this time there were also Philippine commanders who were assigned American Special Forces advisors. Those advisors had to go wherever their counter-part did, so if he was on the front then so were they. However, these American soldiers did not engage in firefights against the enemy in as far as SOFREP discovered.

With LRC’s initial deployment, other problems began to emerge. The unit was down in Basilan for over a year looking for hostages. “The LRC has to be a highly specialized unit, you can’t keep them in the field for more than six months. You have to bring them back and re-train them,” Dizon said. Now it was becoming apparent that the unit could not function as a company but needed to become a battalion strength element with three companies. The Philippine Armed Forces were learning the same lessons that the US Army did when it stood up Delta Force. A-Squadron and B-Squadron were initially created, but soon they realized that a C-Squadron was also required.

Since there was only one company at that time, “You could not rotate, the guys were burned out so the recommendation was to have three companies so one would be deployed, one training, and one on alert,” Dizon said. Back at Fort Magsaysay, 1st LRC was now training 2nd LRC, having drawn on men from the Scout-Rangers and Special Forces companies within the counter-terrorism task force that they had back in Basilan. Colonel Dizon’s colorful military career had taken many unexpected turns and having survived a court-martial, he was now a staff officer at Philippine SOCOM at Fort Magsaysay, hoping to take command of a Ranger Battalion. As it turned out, he received orders to the training branch. Meanwhile, his old classmate from PMA received orders to take command of the LRC which was now becoming LRB, a Light Reaction Battalion.

Military Free Fall training with US Special Forces.

“We are now looking at training soldiers in a urban settings so in a way it was something I was familiar with. The Army at the same time was coming up with a CT task force. We talk a lot, you basically know what is happening, something is happening. What is this new unit?” Dizon said in an interview. His Special Forces friend knew nothing about counter-terrorism but knew how to run the school-house. Dizon had CT experience from his time at the SAF and had worked with the LRC when he was part of the anti-kidnapping task force. The two officers convinced their superior to allow them to swap orders with one another. Dizon was now the first commander of the LRB.

Reporting for duty in 2004, Dizon went to the LRB compound and asked where battalion headquarters was.

“Battalion headquarters?” a Sergeant asked in confusion.